Kole Mathison -- now two-time champ at the NSAF’s XC Town Twilight, including a PR victory last month -- has long been one of the most talented runners in the nation.
He was an XC state champ in middle school, then in the fall of 2019 -- his 9th-grade year -- he was already winning his sectional and nearly making the top 10 in the Indiana State Meet. Then the following summer, before his 10th-grade XC season, Kole ran 9:10.32 for 3200m, technically still part of his freshman year.
The success continued during his soph and junior campaigns, but until this fall one thing has eluded him -- an individual HS state crown. Last weekend, with another outstanding 15:02 run at LaVern Gibson, Kole not only accomplished that goal, but also helped his Carmel Greyhounds take the unique all-class team title by 3 points over Zionsville.
“Ecstatic,” was how he described his reaction. “It was tough slipping and falling at the 2 mile and taking 4th last year. It motivated me all the more for the next year, though. The feeling of crossing the line and finally checking a box that had lingered for 4 years was one of the greatest feelings I’ve experienced.”
As fast as Kole has been each year, this fall so far has not been so much yet about dramatic improvements as it has been consistency. All seven of his efforts this fall have been between 14:51 (XC Town) and 15:07. “Experience definitely plays a part,” he says regarding developing this quality. “Having run so many races and learned from each of them has definitely helped. Training also plays a big role. Being consistent with mileage and workouts and doing all the little things to stay healthy. All those things lead to consistency.”
Kole was ranked #5 nationally in the DyeStat top 30 in the latest rankings (prior to his state meet) and with two weeks to prepare for start of the post-season, he has had time to nurture some big goals. “I definitely want to try and win an individual national title,” he says. “I’ll be trying to qualify for both the NXN and Champs Nationals. Another goal would be to qualify as a team for NXN. I think it’d be a really fun team experience to go out to Portland for a couple days.”
The timing of the NXN (Nov. 13) and Champs (Nov. 26) regional qualifiers makes a nationals double doable -- as has been the case for many runners in Indiana and other Midwest states over the years. The NXN Midwest race will mean a return to LaVern Gibson, the legendary course with which every Hoosier State runner becomes intimate with over their career.
Kole was 22nd and his Carmel Project club 8th in the 2019 NXN Midwest. Of course, the meet was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic and then team did not compete there last fall. So this would be the last chance for Kole and his senior teammates to get to Portland.
Kole’s XC experience actually goes back even further than middle school -- he definitely has a long-term love for the sport. “I got started in the 4th grade through the local organization called Pups Running,” he says. “It was for 4th and 5th graders within the Carmel Clay School district.
“I saw my sister do it (whose 2 years ahead of me) and thought it was the coolest thing. I had to try it. I went out and won my first-ever race and was hooked from then on forward.”
This or That?
AF1 or Air Max? Air Max. I would never rock AF1s, they’re just not for me.
Chipotle or Sweet Greens? Definitely Chipotle. Chicken burrito every time.
Pool or Beach? Beach solely because of spikeball. Other than that I’m a pool guy.
Friday Night in and Chill or Party Time!! Party Time! I would rather hang with friends than chill at home.
Date: Dinner & Movie or Great Outdoors? Great outdoors. I love nature and God’s creation. Part of the reason why I’m going to CU Boulder!
Sports car or Pick-up truck? Sports car. I don’t think I’d have a need for a truck. A McLaren would be dope.
NBA or NFL? NFL for sure. NBA is not entertaining for me, but I still love basketball.
Gold medal or World record? Gold medal. I’ve always been someone who chases places, not times.
Favorite Song? Never Enough by Rex Orange County.
Favorite Book? Running with the Buffalos
Favorite Movie? Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Favorite Dinner? CHICK-FIL-A!!!
Favorite Animal? My dog, Louie.
Favorite Place? Boulder, CO.
Photo by Owen Fink